A reporter for TV9 was sentenced to two years in prison by the Kampot Provincial Court on Wednesday after being found guilty of attempting to blackmail a deputy provincial governor last year, court officials said.
Thul Hokly was arrested last September by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) alongside a since-deceased fellow reporter, but few details of the case have been revealed.
Speaking after handing down the decision Wednesday, Presiding Judge Ros Bophana said the court decided to jail Mr. Hokly for less than the maximum sentence for blackmail.
“The court sentenced Thul Hokly to five years in prison but he will only serve two years of the prison term, as the rest of the sentence was suspended,” she said.
Judge Bophana declined to comment on the circumstances of the crime, but said that another man, Nam Yorng, was sentenced by the court in absentia. “The court sentenced Nam Yorng in absentia to seven years in prison on charges of instigating blackmail,” she said. “He is still at large and the court has issued an arrest warrant.”
Deputy prosecutor Khann Sophal also declined to comment on details of the case but said the other charged reporter, Sar Sunly—who worked for the Kampuchea Thmey Daily newspaper and Hang Meas television—had died during the trial process.
“He died from illness while on bail,” he said.
ACU chairman Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment.
After the arrest last year, Meas Rithy, a news anchor for Hang Meas, told a reporter that the arrest of Mr. Hokly and Sar Sunly was related to blackmailing a deputy provincial governor whose name he did not know. “The ACU official told me that Hokly had attempted to extort $1,000 from a deputy governor,” Mr. Rithy said.
In a Facebook post on September 7, 2015, Mr. Hokly also accused a deputy provincial governor in Kampot of not paying villagers for land he had purchased from them, and also of encroaching upon land claimed by other villagers.